INTERVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

This afternoon on Cosmic-Rock we had an excellent chat with musician/writer Don de Leaumont. Don rocks the heavy blues with his band Collins Drive who just recruited a new drummer and are out on the prowl. A huge heavy metal fan, UFO buff, crypto and alien fan and more Don and I had a fun catch up about his life, influences, thoughts on many subjects. Check out this talk with Mr. de Leaumont and learn all about his views on aliens, blues and heavy metal, and the awesomeness of the Monkees.

 

1.Hey Don howre you? Good to catch up with you bro.

Gid, it’s great to be here my brother.  Long time to talk!  I have been doing great.  2019 found me hitting the ground running with my blog The Great Southern Brainfart and my band Collins Drive.but that’s a good thing.  Busy keeps me out of trouble, haha.

2.Sounds good man. Tell us a little about your background man. Are you from the Carolinas? How did you get into playing music?

I’ve lived the life of a wanderer since I was a kid, haha.  I was born and raised in New Orleans, moved to the Atlanta area in 1988 just before my sophomore year of high school and then in 1999 moved to Concord, NC with my wife (then girlfriend) and we lived in the Carolinas until 2009.  Carolina is a special place that even though I may not agree with a lot of the politics, it has a way of taking and keeping a piece of your heart when you leave it.

As far as getting into music.  Honestly, our house was filled with music for as long as I can remember.  My dad had a great and very eclectic record collection.  One moment he’d be playing Crosby Stills and Nash, the next he’d play Donovan, then he’d throw on some Johnny Mathis and Englebert Humperdink, and then some Iron Butterfly.  I definitely got my eclectic taste from him but it was seeing Twisted Sister on Friday Night Videos that pushed me over the edge and made me want to play guitar.  All I wanted to be was Jay Jay French.

3.Right on. What were some of your favorite albums back in the day that really inspired you?

Oh man, Twisted Sister Stay Hungry was a huge one.  Like I said, that band made me want to get a guitar.  I was very much inspired by AC/DC’s If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It and the Ramones “It’s Alive.”  As much as I loved bands like Iron Maiden, Dio, and Judas Priest, it just didn’t seem attainable for me as a fledgling musician but AC/DC, Twisted Sister, and the Ramones all kind of embodied this heavy yet easy to grasp style of writing that made me feel like I could do it. 

4. Any classic concerts?

Being a kid of the 80’s a lot of my fave classic shows didn’t seem to be all that classic back then but are now.  Seeing the Dio era Black Sabbath reunion in 1992 was something that I will never forget for as long as I live.  I even have the set list from the show here in Atlanta.  Besides that, seeing Alice Cooper and Judas Priest on the same billing with Motorhead, Dangerous Toys, and Metal Church in the 90s is something that I look back on now and say, “Holy f*ck!  That was amazing.”  Seeing Iron Maiden in ’88 on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour changed my life and set the bar so high.  They’re still my favorite band alongside the Grateful Dead.   

5.Dude right on bro. I’m a big Grateful Dead and metal fan. Maiden is an institution. Dangerous Toys yeah they were real good, always a big Priest and Motorhead fan. I saw Motorhead and Alice Cooper once in the 80s at the old coliseum in Charlotte. I know you’re a huge metalhead. How did you get into metal and what have been some of the ways it has enriched your life?

I got into metal because of a friend’s older brother.  I remember being at his house playing with Transformers and hearing this music coming from the next room.  We went over and knocked on his door and he let us in.  It was the first time I heard bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Dio, Rainbow, and bands like that.  As far as how it’s enriched my life, in all honesty, for the most part I have learned that metalheads are some of the most open minded music listeners so if anything, listening to metal made me listen to all kinds of music with a critical ear; paying attention to arrangements and things like that because metal music generally is known for their elaborate arrangements. 

6.Sure yeah. You an old school British metalhead or a big LA Metal fan?

Ya know Gid, as a kid I LOVED the LA metal scene.  Ratt, Poison, WASP, Great White, etc were my jams but as I got older I discovered the NWOBHM stuff like early Maiden, early Priest, Diamond Head, Saxon, Venom, shit like that.  These days, I’m loving this younger generation of bands who are playing that old school metal.  Bands like Savage Master, Holy Grail, Black Road, Book of Wyrms, etc are keeping it alive.  I’m also very much into this Finnish/Swedish psych rock/occult rock movement with bands such as Graveyard, Lucifer, Electric Octopus, Jess and the Ancient Ones, and Tytus to name a few.

7.Lots of cool bands for sure man. We just talked to Book of Wyrms a few days ago and I interviewed Suzi awhile back  (see interviews). What about all the subgenres of metal or are you into any and all metal? Poison to Deicide, all metal?

I find subgenres to be f*cking annoying, haha  I mean, I feel like subgenres are just a way to put a tag on something in an attempt to make it stand out.  As a writer, I get press releases all the times from all genres of rock and some of the most annoying ones are ones like, “Ambient Blackened Death Metal Duo” kind of shit.  As for my liking of music, my love spans from Poison and Ratt to Watain and Carcass’ Heartwork album.  My deal is that I listen to everything at least once and if I like it, I like it regardless of genre.  So I can’t say I love metal or I love death metal or whatever.  That’s like saying I love all hamburgers which is a lie because Burger King f*cking sucks, haha.  Get what I’m saying?

 

8.I got ya homey. Your band Collins drive is more of blues influenced style. I know you are into all kinds of music across the map. How did you form Collins Drive and what is the band like?

Collins Drive actually is a band that found me, haha.  I had placed an ad on Craig’s List looking for a band and I never heard from anyone so I just assumed I’d carry on as a solo act.  One day this lady (bassist Allison Shockley) messaged me saying that she loved the songs I had and that she had a drummer.  We jammed once and it was pretty magical.  We didn’t have a name for a while but the name comes from the street our ex drummer lives on.  Stylistically we’re a roots rock band with many influences.  Luis (our drummer) and myself are huge metal fans but we’re also huge fans of the band Jellyfish while Allison is a jazz fanatic.  As a songwriter, I’m inspired by one of my best friends Bert Wray, Kevn Kinney, Whiskeytown, The Band, Tom Petty, and David Crosby to name a few.  I write the songs and we arrange them as a band which is when they really come to life.

9.You guys have a new drummer these days?

Yes.  His name is Luis Nieves and he’s absolutely amazing.  Funny story.  Luis came to a lot of Collins Drive shows and was a fan of the band.  At our album release show for our new album This Town of Mine, after the show Luis pulled me aside and told me just how much our music moved him and that it took him to these other places.  I couldn’t think of a higher compliment.  He then said that if was to ever start playing drums again that this is the kind of music he would want to play.  Two days later our drummer quit so we called Luis and said, “You’ll never believe this”, haha.  Allison and I got together with him and it was magical and even more so than before.  Collins Drive now has this new found energy and the songs and the performances are more exciting than ever.  We really got lucky and Luis really saved us from what could’ve been a dark period.

10.Great man. Nothing like a bad ass drummer to jam with. The anchor and power behind a riff as often the case. So you’re a big Alien/UFO fan. Tell us a little about your interests in Extraterrestrials and Alien phenomenon. Have you ever seen a UFO?

Now you’re speaking my other language.  Haha.  I have been interested in the unknown every since I was 8 years old.  Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, the Yeti, UFOs.  They have always been a passion of mine.  I have seen a UFO twice in my life.  Once with a friend back in the late 90’s.  We were coming back from a concert late at night driving back roads and we saw lights in the woods.  We pulled over to the side of the road to see what it was and it just shot straight up into the sky.   I also saw one about a month ago in broad daylight at about 10am.  I saw a silver cigar shaped thing in the sky that stayed stationary for about five minutes.  I whipped out my phone to capture a picture of it and right after I took the picture, it changed position and shot straight up into the sky and disappeared.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day.  These things don’t scare me at all.  If anything, I feel lucky to have had these experiences because they are self affirming. 

11.Amazing dude. Any person theories on Alien life?

I think it’s pompous to believe that we are the only living beings in this huge fucking universe.  The universe is so vast so there’s no doubt in my mind that there is live in other galaxies and on other planets.  To not believe that, to me, is just preposterous. 

12.What inspired you and drew you into your fascination with aliens?

Like I said earlier, just as a kid who spent a lot of time alone and I found myself immersed in the subjects of the unknown.  There was also this great show that used to come on PBS called In Search of… that was hosted by Leonard Nimoy that ran in reruns.  They would have episodes like In Search of Ancient Aviators, The Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, Atlantis, ESP, and stuff like that.  It was pretty much the precursor to Ancient Aliens.   

13.Ah man, In Search Of.. was the best! We used to love them and watch them all the time. What about ancient history? The ancient alien influence ideas? Any thoughts?

This is where people start to look at me like I’m nuts, hahaha.  I am a huge believer that our existence, history, and technology were all shaped with the help of alien inspiration.  I’ve done a lot of reading about the Mayans and how they were assisted by “visitors from the sky” where they were shown how to do some tasks and create useful inventions.  Same with the ancient Egyptians.  I honestly believe that there is harder evidence that this could have been a reality that the idea that there is a God and a son of God who died, rose from the dead, and walked on water and what not.  To me, that sounds way crazier than believing that we have been given so much of our technology and ancient architecture from alien species. 

 

14.In other interests I know you’re a big fan of the Monkees. Praise on the virtues of the Monkees.

The Monkees fucking rule.  Haha.  It’s so common for them to be overlooked as a TV show band and some unimportant band but that bands did more for rock n’ roll than most people know.  The Monkees eventually wanted to be a band and when told they couldn’t, they fought for the creative freedom and ability to play on their own albums (which many band of their era didn’t do anyways) and then to go out on tour.  Their live shows were raw, gritty, and almost kind of garage band-ish.  Besides, Mike Nesmith pretty much invented Alt-Country so in my opinion, the Monkees are a very important band.  Listen to the album Headquarters and let’s talk again.

15.Yeah man. Any all time other bands you have really enjoyed?

Well, not to kiss ass here but I’ve been a fan of the Dixie Damned since first hearing you guys back in 2001.  Southern Gentlemen is a classic.   Gosh, I could go on all day. I love Jellyfish, Yes, Rush, King Crimson, The Ramones, Styx, Tesla, HUGE Alice Cooper fan, WASP, Ratt, Twisted Sister, I’m also a huge fan of Tony Martin era Black Sabbath, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Purson, Lucifer, Vindicator, like I said, I could be here all day, haha.

16.Thanks very much for the props and kind regards bro, that means very much to me. Glad you dig the music. What is one life skill you think we all need to have?

I’d like to take this question on from two perspectives.  First off, I think one life skill we should all have as artists is the ability to accept criticism no matter how it is given to us.  Whether it’s a glowing review or it’s a bad review full of snarky humor, we should all embody the skill of acceptance because in reality, once we release our art to the public, it’s not longer ours.  It’s like having a kid.  Once you send him/her into the world, you can’t be there 24/7 to protect them.  Same thing goes for music/art which in the end is all subjective.

As people, I think the most important life skill we should have is one of acceptance that we are all equal.  All of this hatred towards people of other nationalities, creeds, gender, gender preferences, and sexual preferences gets us nowhere.  How much better would this world be if we could all just be one unified race which unfortunately will never happen?  While this is my opinion, I believe that we can make our own difference on our own so to have that skill of acceptance will just make you a better and happier person in life. 

17.Good words man, definitely. Thoughts on the music scene and world today with the madness of social media and current days?

Social media: You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it.  I firmly believe that social media is what you make it.  If you want it to be a place to talk about music, aliens, and other cool shit, that’s what you can turn it into.  If you are going into it looking to stir up the political pot with hatred and anger, that’s what you’re experience will be.  The beauty behind social media is that, in the end, we have total control of what our experiences will be. 

18.What advice would you give an artist who’s just starting out?

Instead of just tuning into what’s current, go explore your parent’s music collections.  You may be surprised at what you find.  I look at music like history.  Sometimes it’s best to go back to the beginning to see how we got to where we’re at now.  It’ll make you a better artist, better writer, and a better musician. 

19.Any obscure artists or records you’d encourage people to check out?

The debut Captain Beyond album is a must.  Black Sabbath’s Headless Cross featuring Tony Martin on vocals is a sadly overlooked album.  The debut self titled May Blitz album is great and Black Widow’s Sacrifice is a fucking masterpiece of psychedelic hard rock infuse with folk music.  It’s fucking amazing.  Finally, listen to the very first Journey album just called Journey.  It’ll blow your f*cking mind.

 

20.Any last words or news for your fans today?

First off, thank Gid for taking such an interest in me and for having so many awesome questions.  As for my readers/fans/friends, I thank you all for all of the support and words of criticism (both good and bad) as it just makes me a stronger person.  Love each other and more importantly, love yourselves! Thanks so much Gid! 

Youre welcome bro and big thanks to you, stay in touch and let us know your news. - G